If there’s one thing that is absolutely critical to all of us at Mouth HQ, it’s coffee. One of us is actually known to go through three, sometimes four, cups of iced coffee in a single morning (hey, Valerie—yeah, we’re outing you). And we’re not alone. If there’s one thing that most working people are hooked on, it’s our cold brew iced coffee. In the frigid winds of a Polar Vortex to the sweltering summer humidity intensified in the subway, you’ll see us with iced coffee in hand, power-walking into our morning meeting.
But iced coffee can be an expensive habit, especially if you’re getting it four times a day. You look at your credit card statement and you swear you’ve been frauded.
But you don’t have to make that monetary sacrifice to a certain mermaid-goddess hybrid lady every month. Making homemade iced coffee or homemade cold brew right in the comfort of your own kitchen is easy and chances are that after the first try, you’ll be making iced perfection that’s even better than any green-aproned, ironic-glasses-wearing barista could. Just follow our how to make iced coffee recipe...
How to Make Iced Coffee While Still in Your Underwear
First and foremost, good iced coffee or cold brew is not hot coffee poured over ice. (That only leads to tepid watered-down coffee, which no one wants.) When cold brew coffee first hit the scene, it was shrouded in this air of mystery. But think about it for one cold second. Regular drip coffee is made when coffee grounds come in contact with hot water, and cold brew is just the same—just with water from the cold tap. (And to think we thought it was some kind of mystery!) The only other addition is more time. Hot coffee takes about four minutes to brew, but cold brew takes about 12 hours. Hence, a little more planning is required. However that additional time the beans are in contact with the water delivers a big pay-off: double the caffeine. How’s that for a morning jolt?
Our favorite source is Grady’s, a Brooklyn-based company specializing in coffee with a New Orleans spin. Chicory (think a candied licorice) is combined with the beans and lends a sweetness to the final cup. Our best-selling Grady’s DIY Cold Brew Kit spells out the whole homemade cold brew recipe and process right on the can (complete with pictures!):
- Grab a bag of Grady’s beans (already ground and ready to brew), 2 cups of water, and a spoon.
- Gently press the bag into the water with the spoon until soaked.
- Refrigerate for a minimum of 12 hours. 24 is best if you want a deep, rich flavor.
- Remove the bag from the water with the spoon.
- Enjoy your coffee concentrate all week.
After minimal effort (you were probably sleeping for most of those 12-hours), you have a smooth concentrate that’s enough for six 8-ounce servings and will keep in the fridge all week. Just combine with equal parts water or milk and pour over ice and you’re ready to dash.
How to Make Iced Coffee Even Sweeter
But you want an even sweeter deal than saving that coffee money. Not to mention, you want to push your newfound barista skills to the next level.
Though Grady’s homemade cold brew is naturally sweet from the chicory, we understand that it might not be sweet enough for your taste. But standard refined white sugar seems like a step down after you’ve just learned the magic of cold brew.
And we agree. What makes a good barista and elevates them to a great barista is the willingness to experiment. Sweetener is just the opportunity. Take a note from coffeeheads in the Northeast (where there is a multitude of maple trees), and add a little fresh maple syrup to your cold brew. (This one, aged in used bourbon barrels, is especially delicious.) Or take a trip south of the border (or to Southeast Asia), and stir in a spoonful of sweetened condensed milk. People in Mexico, the Caribbean and Vietnam have been using the canned milk in coffee for decades. Or you can smoke out the competition by adding bourbon-smoked sugar to your homemade cold brew. (We have to confess that we were inspired by a certain coffee chain that is aging coffee beans in used bourbon barrels.) Dissolve the smoked sugar crystals and you’ll get roasted, sweet caramel notes… suddenly you’re drinking by a Catskill Mountains campfire and not on that crowded commuter train.
Other Hair-Raising Ways to Use Your Homemade Iced Coffee
The Grady’s cold brew recipe, yields six servings. That’s one more glass than there are days in the work week… so what are you supposed to do with that extra bit of concentrate?
The obvious answer is to celebrate! You’ve made it to the weekend. A bittersweet, malty Guinness and coffee afogato? A coffee Old Fashioned cocktail with small-batch aromatic bitters? An indulgent coffee & vanilla ice cream milkshake, laced with hot fudge sauce? Or hey, with all that money you saved from not getting your coffee from a shop, splurge on a Friday night steak – marinate it in the leftover cold brew concentrate along with some salt, grainy mustard, and shallots. It’s time to think outside of the (cold brew) jar. You’ve mastered how to make iced coffee—now you can flex your barista skills away from the to-go thermos. Just remember to stay grounded and espresso yourself through your coffee creations.